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Seminar Film: Asia in Korea, Korea in Asia


Admission requirements

A beginning level of proficiency in Korean is crucial and some background knowledge of Korea is useful.


This seminar course examines the long-standing interactions of Korea with other Asian countries, focusing on cinematic works produced by Koreans, ethnic Koreans, and transnational co-productions from the colonial period (1910-1945) to the present. Students will trace Korea’s sociocultural imaginations of Asia and its changing relationship with Asian countries, by closely analyzing filmic representations of Asia and the Asian as well as Korea and the Korean. A range of films that include auteurs’ works, popular genre films, propaganda, documentary films, and experimental works are introduced. These are used to examine social, cultural, and political concerns in modern Asia, of which Korea—both North and South—has been a part, and to explore any ideas of “Koreanness” and “the Korean questions” that have emerged but been constantly contested. The key questions discussed in this course are: How does cinema propose and circulate ideas and images of Koreanness? What specific aesthetic form or style does each film explore in responding to modern experiences in Asia? What ethnic, racial, gendered, or class identities are represented in films? The course consists of mini-lectures, class discussions, student presentations, and film screenings. Major topics include modern Korea and decentering China, the Korean view of the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere, postcolonial re-imagination of colonial Korea, North Korea as the Asian other, racial and ethnic minorities in Asia, multicultural South Korea, and diasporic communities and global Asia.

Course objectives

The main purpose of this course is first, to explore how the field of Korean studies could be considered as area studies through cinema, and second, to introduce the major cinematic works that would lead students to further probe the geopolitical, social, and cultural aspects of modern Korean society. By seeking answers to the questions mentioned in the course description, students will gain historical perspectives that account for the intellectual, political, and social interactions of Korea with other Asian countries. They will also practice essential critical thinking and analytical skills for examining cinematic or audiovisual works.



Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Course Load

  • Total workload 140 hours;

  • Attending lectures and seminars : 2 hours per week X 13 weeks = 26 hours

  • Preparation: 4 hours per week X 13 weeks = 52 hours

  • Preparing oral presentation= 12 hours

  • Written assignments (review and research): 50 hours

Assessment method

  • Attendance: 10%

  • Active Class Participant (Blackboard Postings and Presentations): 20%

  • Formal Paper Assignments: 70%

Resit: students who fail the course (a grade below a 5.5) may resit the formal paper assignments if they have participated in class and in the active class participation.


Blackboard will be used for delivery of relevant reading materials and submission of assignments.

Reading list

Recommended Texts:

  • David Bordwell, Film Art: Introduction

  • Timothy Corrigan, Short Guide to Writing about Film

All readings will be on reserve at the East Asian library.
Suggested readings and useful websites will be mentioned on the Blackboard site.


Students are required to register for this course via uSis, the course registration system of Leiden University. General information about the Registration procedure


Mw. Dr. N. Han, Room 121 in the Arsenaal.


Compulsory attendance.
Co-ordinator of Studies Mw. S. Kraakman